Ransomware is on the rise. According to an Emsisoft report released earlier this year, in the US alone, ransomware demands could exceed $1.4 billion in 2020 with total recovery costs reaching as high as $9.3 billion after adding in associated system downtime.1 The manufacturing industry is not immune to attacks like these. Last year, the manufacturing sector transferred over $6.9M to threat actors, the highest of any industry, despite only accounting for 18% of all paid ransom cases.2
Over the last few years, several major manufacturers have been the victim of ransomware attacks resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in associated damages and loss of production.
It’s critical that manufacturers take proactive steps now to protect their business from such attacks. With 24/7 operations in manufacturing, this problem is amplified. Every minute of system downtime significantly impacts the bottom line. With the massive amount of ransomware attacks being launched daily, it is possible your organization may be targeted by organized ransomware campaigns.
When a ransomware attack occurs, organizations typically respond in one of two ways:
- Pay the ransom to get their system back up, even though paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee the system will be restored. Many times, hackers use special encryption that is impossible to fix, even for the hacker. Paying the ransom will also make the victim an attractive target for future attacks.
- Refuse the ransom and attempt to restore system access on their own or with the help of an IT consulting firm. This approach could still result in the loss of massive amounts of data and requires costly rebuilds.
Almost all experts advise taking the latter option since it is the safer alternative.
While there is no way to guarantee an organization is completely protected from ransomware, there are ways to minimize the impact on their business if victimized. Migrating critical business systems into the cloud provides 3 key benefits that can minimize the disruption caused by ransomware attacks:
1. Maintain version currency
Running out of date software is a major security risk and ransomware has exploited weaknesses like these in the past. In 2017, the famous WannaCry ransomware attacks targeted out of date machines and users that had failed to deploy a protective patch which Microsoft had issued a few months prior. The result, roughly 250,000 affected machines and an estimated $4 billion in damages.3
Leveraging cloud technology enables organizations to automatically get updates to their systems directly from the developers. These updates not only ensure the system has the latest and greatest functionality, but also includes any new security patches to keep their system running efficiently and securely.
2. Automated data backup services
When recovering from a ransomware attack, it is unrealistic to expect a system will be restored to the exact way it was before. A more realistic objective is to minimize downtime and the impact on the business. When it comes to critical business systems, such as workforce management and human capital management solutions, which contain personal employee records and compensation history, the sense of urgency to restore these systems is high to protect the business and the employees.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is to “roll back” the system to a previous version when the data was not encrypted. In order to retain as much data as possible, consistent data backups are required. Most cloud services providers regularly backup customer environments and retain previous versions so systems can be rolled back quickly if needed to restore access and minimize data loss.
3. Gain enhanced security
Protecting a cyber environment is not only a massive, time consuming effort for IT staff, but it also requires a significant capital investment from the organization. An investment of this scale can be prohibitive to smaller companies or even large companies with numerous technology initiatives. Cloud services providers are able to distribute this investment over the thousands of customers whose data resides in their environment, making it much easier to justify spending millions of dollars on cyber security. Any data privacy concerns can tarnish their reputation and lead to compliance issues, so they must always have top of the line security standards in place. In addition, leading cloud providers conduct ongoing vulnerability testing to significantly reduce the risk of hacking and other security threats.
By migrating critical business systems to the cloud, manufacturers can reduce the risk of being the victim of a ransomware attack and can also respond quickly to security threats to minimize the impact on their business and their workforce.